Geography: A Primer on Sia, the Solara System, and Reality.   Posted by The Reaper.Group: 0
The Reaper
 GM, 27 posts
 Inevitable and
Sat 28 Jan 2017
at 04:15
Geography: A Primer on Sia, the Solara System, and Reality
The Physical Realm

Life began on Sia, the first planet borne into the world, rotating around the first star, called Solara. Sia is a world with less overall water than earth (about 60% of its landmass is water, opposed to Earth's 71%), but Sia contains much, much more fresh water than Earth. The dominant type of terrain are vast river lands and floodplains. Mountains do exist, however, both in the Bloodpeaks and in smaller mountain ranges elsewhere. Seasons on Sia are divided into simple six month wet and dry seasons. The wet seasons are sometimes called "monsoon seasons" with particularly persistent or violent storms called "monsoons."

Sia's night sky is a remarkable sight, due to its planetary ring made primarily of ice and dust, called the Tears of Sia by most inhabitants. According to legend, it was created at the same time as Sia's moon, a verdant world of alien jungle called Oona, hanging like a greenish-blue eye against the stars. The particularly learned or observant might also notice Celune, a wandering blue star in Sia's night sky that is in fact a gas giant. Home to the strange gaseous yurei race, it is the only other planet orbiting Solara. Together, Sia and Celune and their respective moons make up the entirety of the Solara System, and host most of the life in the universe. Finally, on the rare nights when it orbits overhead, one is able to see the mysterious floating city of Luminare float by in the upper atmosphere. A shining crystal citadel believed to have been created by the aui in the second age, it is only accessible by magic. Most mortals will never visit it, but rumors of strange crystalline dragons and populations of aui forming a bastion of Light have reached Sia's surface.

Other worlds, far across the space between stars called the Void, hold small cradles of life, referred to collectively as Voidling communities. Almost all are in some way or another either pilgrims or refugees from Sia, with the possible exception of the lumbering Leviathans and Travelers, organic spaceship-like creatures who have long slumbered in the Void. Travelers cultivate Voidling communities, even using powerful magic to make entire star system more habitable for mortal life. Leviathans instead terrorize these communities, harboring hordes of blood-magic abusing human blood magic mutants called Dhampir. Genocide seems to be something of a sport for the dread Leviathans, and they're known to wait centuries until a vulnerable Voidling population is "ripe," then invade it with Dhampir and abduct the inhabitants for untold torments in their interior.

Most of the secrets of the stars are unknown to the common folk of Sia, however (including most level 1 heroes). Instead, they're focused on more earthly threats, like the akaname blood sorcerers of the Vast Sea or the theocractic Knights of Saeryn, depending on one's proximity and point of view. The southwestern quarter-sphere of the planet is dominated by the Fields of Saeryn, home of the Saerynite Empire. Saeryn is a goddess of Life, present in many cultures, but embraced wholeheartedly by her devout. Here, the Saerynite Empress  holds court over a vast network of noble vassals. Various Exalted Knighthoods pledge allegiance to individual lords, with an equal number going into the service of the Empire. The Exalted are unusually large and muscular Saerynites who have a unique command of magic and have the ability to bond with dragon mounts. While the Saerynite Empire is crushingly feudalistic in its culture, Exalted can be born among any social class. Peasant Exalted quickly become folk heroes, and producing a such a rare hero can greatly enhance a village's standing.

North of the Fields of Saeryn lies the Vast Sea, dominating the northwestern quarter-sphere of Sia. Here, among the blood-stained corals, the junin akaname lord over their shinryaku cousins as best they can and wage war against the peoples of the dry-lands. The Vast Sea is also home to many deep dragons, as well as fearsome and shape-shifting greater shen. The far northern, frozen sections of the Vast Sea are generally left alone by the akaname, and some frostbitten and hardscrabble Wild Tribe societies have managed to find a stubborn foothold.

East of the Vast Sea, the salt waters turn to brackish river-ways before becoming steaming mangrove swamps, vast trackless forests, or pine and tundra further north. Vast, ancient and powerful Wild Tribes are entrenched here, foremost among them the mighty Wargen Nation. Some of the trees here are rumored to be impossibly old and hold strange powers, including Myrkvišr, the Tree of Life, and the ereburite trees, strange trees with trunks of cold metal that are said to draw demons into the world. Though they lack a single, unified culture, the various human and duerga Wild Tribes here have managed to turn away centuries of attempts at colonization or subjugation by the Saerynites, the akaname, and recently the sarkans.

The southeastern quarter-sphere is dominated by forbidding mountains, containing hardened Wild Tribes, expansionist sarkan outposts, ancient Reaper cults, and more recently open Azulean outposts. The area is also famed for hosting many entrances to the Labyrinth, the vast linked underworld of caverns that run below all of Sia's surface, but in this region especially. It is said that only those truly dedicated to knowledge and understanding can navigate the endless maze of the Labyrinth to discover Aboya, the Hidden City of Secret Knowledge, where the great Codex said to penned by Sha'an the God of Dark himself lies, guarded zealously by the great Majisters. Most Free Duerga hail from here, and many serve as Majisters themselves. The surrounding caverns are home to numerous wild and true duerga enclaves, subterranean tribes of shinryaku akaname, and even some sarkan outcasts and refugees.

This message was last edited by the GM at 23:30, Thu 09 Feb 2017.

The Reaper
 GM, 28 posts
 Inevitable and
Sat 28 Jan 2017
at 04:29
Geography: A Primer on Sia, the Solara System, and Reality
The Aetheric Realms

The Realm of Aether lies adjacent to reality, encompassing the realms of magic and its borderlands, where the Aether intersects with reality. The three major divisions in the Aetheric Realms are the Magical Realm, the Nexus Arc, and the Sea of All Storms. If the Aether Realm is understood as a body of water, the Sea of All Storms would be understood to be its shores, shallow and connecting the Aether (the water) to the land (reality). Deeper down are the habitable waters, where the crystalline city of Nexus Arc have sprung up. The Magical Realm in this analogy would be the crushing depths, too cold and dark to sustain any life other than the strange elementals that call it home.

The Sea of All Storms is a strange plane immediately adjacent to reality, composed entirely of water, floating islands of stone, and constant hurricane-force winds. The realm is extremely hostile to mortal life, but it is home to the powerful fae-like creatures called the Sidhe. The Sidhe constantly torture and harass mortals that cross over into the Sea, or even emerge from hidden portals called Storm-Gates to attack mortals in reality that evoke their ire (or at least alleviate their boredom). For unknown reasons, however, the famously intractable and dangerous Sea of All Storms has grown eerily calm as of late. True, on the best days, it's still as wild as the worst monsoon stampeding across the Fields of Saeryn, but rumors have surface that the akaname have found some way of harnessing or traversing the Sea, using the Storm-Gates as backdoors into enemy nations.

Further from the shores of reality, the nebulous Sea of All Storms solidifies into the Nexus Arc. A vast, crystalline city created from combined, focused psychic effort of the Aether Dragons, some Seekers of Ur, and the select few mortal wizards who have migrated here to learn the art of aetheric shaping. By forever severing one's link to reality, one can subsist in the Nexus Arc indefinitely, using the discipline of aetheric shaping to create whatever one desired out of the raw aether. Though the city of Nexus Arc occupies a wide swath of territory, they are constantly at war with the neighboring Sidhe. Very few are aware of the Nexus Arc's even existence, though scholars in Aboya, Luminare, the Academy of Ur, and other areas of advanced magical knowledge.

Finally, there is the Plane of Magic, of which virtually nothing is known other than the fact that it is the home of the elementals. Mortals who attempt to travel here (even highly resilient mortals, such as aui or yurei mages) are immediately ripped to shreds by the conflicting domain energies that run rampant here.

This message was last edited by the GM at 00:36, Sun 29 Jan 2017.

The Reaper
 GM, 30 posts
 Inevitable and
Sat 28 Jan 2017
at 07:16
Geography: A Primer on Sia, the Solara System, and Reality
The Spiritual Realms

The afterlife on Sia is called generally "Akasha," and is conceived of as a dark and eternal cavern where souls go to reflect on the actions of their life. Some sages speak of entities called the tellus who guide souls through these twisting corridors. The tellus, it is said, are made of bonds and relationships instead of flesh and blood, reflections of powerful organizations, faiths and kinships that have rooted in Sia. If the tellus are real, no one in Sia credibly claims to have ever seen one.

There is section of Akasha called "Paradiso" that most faithful Saerynites believe they will go. This is supposedly a place of joyful meditation and spiritual plenty, where Saeryn's faithful and a select few heroes of Light, Life and goodness are destined to celebrate and idle for a time before being reborn into the world. For Sia's conception of the afterlife concerns reincarnation almost entirely, with certain very powerful souls and saints believed to retain their memories and consciousness between lifetimes. A few learned sages whisper that the Reaper is one such soul, accumulating knowledge and fell power throughout untold lifetimes.

Also within Akasha is the strange realm of blighted Azule. What was once a Voidling community was dragged into the metaphysical space of Akasha by a strange magical cataclysm. The Saerynites as well as some more optimistic Aboyan scholars believe Azule was cast into Akasha by the gods for its crimes. Others argue that the Reaper purposefully moved Azule beyond the edges of reality in order to hide it from prying eyes and grant the Reaper a chance to bide its time.

While legends of Paradiso, Azule and the interior of dark Akasha have infiltrated most sections of Sia's various societies, only the most powerful mages can claim to have credibly visited these places.
The Reaper
 GM, 31 posts
 Inevitable and
Sat 28 Jan 2017
at 08:03
Geography: A Primer on Sia, the Solara System, and Reality
Major Nations
The Saerynite Empire is the most technologically advanced nation on Sia, and by far the most populous. As mentioned earlier, they're ruled by a hereditary Emperor or Empress, whose power stems from numerous landed noble vassals. The most significant military force in the Empire are the various Exalted Orders of Knighthood, though there are plenty of ordinary peasant footmen and even summoned footmen to round out the numbers. Their military is the largest and arguably the most powerful on Sia. The Saerynite capitol is called Saerynopolis. It's located in the middle of the Fields of Saeryn and is the assumed starting location for heroes who don't have a strong reason to be elsewhere.

Aboya is a city of learned alchemists, mages, thaumaturges, craftsmen and scholars. A completely subterranean city, Aboya is located in the lowest reaches of the Labyrinth. It is said that, by the divine decree of Sha'an of the Dark, only those truly committed to knowledge and understanding can locate the city of Aboya. This is less true in these days, when tenuous teleportation rituals allow some limited travel between Aboya and its sister city of Luminare. While Aboya is a treasure trove of magical knowledge, their military presence is quite slight. The Aboyan Council of Majisters trusts the divine maze of the Labyrinth overmuch, though the growing consensus among the Majisters about the threat the Dark Empire poses might change this.

Luminare is a dazzling city glinting in the clouds, lost among the Tears of Sia. Very few people on Sia will ever have the possibility of travelling there, but it has a native population of aui, crystal dragons, and other strange beings associated with the domain of Light. Luminare considers itself a sister city to Aboya, and some learned members of both societies can teleport between the two locations (with many years of study, meditation and practice, of course). Both Luminare's origins and how it manages to stay aloft are utter mysteries to most commonfolk on Sia.

The Vast Sea is the seat of power of the akaname junin, feared blood-sorcerers who would gladly drown the dry-lands in blood if they could. While their reach is limited to the shores and river ways, akaname have also managed to form temporary crossroads in the Sea of All Storms. While their constant in-fighting prevents them from being too much of a problem for neighbors, many still fear angering the akaname due to their innate mercilessness as much as the curses their legendary junin are capable of inflicting.

Muspelheim is a relatively new player on Sia. Located in the southwestern sections of the Fields of Saeryn and along the eastern mountains, Muspelheim did not exist until fairly recently. In the Second Age, the Bloodpeak Mountains erupted in an event known as the Dragon's Spine Breaking. These cataclysmic eruptions increased the forbidding size of the Bloodpeaks, and also forged the fiery land of Muspelheim. Long a haven for Saerynite heretics following Ymara (long believed to be a minor sub-deity devoted to Saeryn), the human followers of Ymara were transformed into sarkans during the cataclysm. Few now doubt the power of Ymara, the Hag of Ashes, and the sarkans have thrived in their fiery new home. Volcanic ash provides fertile ground for crops, and the periodic eruptions of the Bloodspeaks, while devastating, are something the sarkan people alone are able to weather.

The Wargen Nation is a confedaracy of Wild Tribes that have gained a strong foothold in northeastern Sia. Controlled vast stretches of temperate forest and tundra, many smaller Wild Tribes have pledged allegiance to them. While not many accomplished mages or shaman are among the Wargen, they are famed for the unique, preternatural bond they've formed with a species of massive wolves they call dire wolves. Some Wargen are able to integrate themselves into part of a dire wolf pack, gaining an unusually close bond with one or two specific wolves. Others, typically the Wargen nobility, are shapeshifters capable of assuming dire wolf form for a short time. Some Wild Tribes have pledged allegiance to the Wargen, while others rebel against them at any opportunity. Most, however, simply watch from the shadows, waiting for the time when the Wargen chieftains slip up and give their clan or tribe their chance to shine.

Minor Powers
The Shardite Kingdom occupy the Shard Mountains in the northeastern section of the Fields of Saeryn. An ancient offshoot of the Saerynite faith, the Shardites' millenia-old heresy has not been forgiven by the Saerynite Empire. While the Shardite Kingdom is a petty one compared to the wealth and power of the Saerynites, their unassailable fortresses of strange purple stone have allowed them to resist the Saerynites since time immemorial.

The Sarjins are bitter and hardened merchant-princes from the far southern reaches of the Fields of Saeryn. This desert of cold sand and frost hides some of the greatest master craftsmen, blacksmith and armorsmiths to be found on Sia. Though technically enemies and apostates of the Saerynite Empire, their finely wrought weapons arm far too many Saerynite Knights and nobles for them to ever be a viable target of conquest. They instead spend their time consolidating power in their barren realms, constantly battling against enclaves of duerga or Wild Tribe holdout chieftains.

The Academy of Ur Rivaling Aboya and Luminare as the premier center of magical research in all of reality, the Academy of Ur, unlike the other locations listed here, is not on Sia or anywhere near it. A distant Voidling community, Ur has long been a bastion of balanced magical study in reality. Guided by the enigmatic Seekers and certain ancient mortal masters, the Academy has had its hands full as of late, finding itself unexpectedly on the frontlines of the Dark Empire's invasion of reality. The idyllic academy is now a war-torn hellplanet, with various masters, Seekers and students fighting desperately to protect the Amethyst Arch that sits at the center of their school, which they believe holds the key to the vast network of ley-lines that transmit magic throughout reality.

Numerous Wild Tribes and Wild Duerage enclaves vie for dominance in the wild places of Sia. Most are concentrated in the northeastern quarter of the planet, but not all. The individual tribes vary wildly in military, political and economic power, beliefs, and outlook.

Notes on the Elements
The specific elements, known as domains, are of vital importance in Sia. Each element was initially represented by a player who helped create the world. I'll be highlighting major differences between common fantasy depictions of these elements, and how they're depicted in The Reaping of Sia.

Light and Life behave largely as one would expect them to. Light is associated with divination, artistic inspiration, civilization and knowledge. Life is associated with nurturing magical forces, healing and defensive magics.

Dark, contrary to most fantasy settings, is not associated with evil at all. Commonly associated with the Labyrinth and scholarly Aboya, Dark is a protective force associated with protection, knowledge and self-denial.

Fire is associated with fire and passion like most other settings, but is also associated with dreams and narratives. It is also something of a mystery, with the goddess Ymara having been mysteriously absent for much of the first age.

Water is a much more destructive element than in most other fantasy settings, and is in fact a favored battle-magic among knowledgeable wizards. Water is associated with the rapacious akaname, the savage shapeshifting shen, and the violent and unpredictable cycles of Sia's own weather. Water does necessarily nurture life, so healing and protective magics are possible with Water Domain magic, but in most cultures Water is largely considered a force of destruction.

Earth is associated with the common fantasy themes of protection and healing. In Sia, however, it is especially connected with concepts of kinship, bonds, and the arcane sympathetic connections that exist between like things. Earth magic has some of the most complex and involved magical lore of all the domains, and is focus of study for many Free Duerga.

Energy is a major patron of the magic arts, strongly associated with the Aether and the Academy of Ur. Balance is very important to most philosophical models of Energy.

Air is associated with storms, thunder and electricity, but shares many of these aspects with Water. What makes Air unique is its connection with freedom, both physical and ideological. Adherents of Air are often free-willed to the point of selfishness. What few know is that the Air domain is also associated with entropy, and is ultimately responsible for the Reaper and, by extension, the blight of the Dark Empire.

This message was last edited by the GM at 08:05, Sat 28 Jan 2017.